A CAMPAIGN group has said grouse shooting is surrounded by a “circle of destruction” on one of the busiest days in the sport’s calendar.

August 12, also known as the Glorious Twelfth, marks the first day of the red grouse shooting season.

But Revive Scotland - a coalition of organisations that support grouse moor reform - said the sport has left Scotland’s uplands in a “degraded state”.

"A circle of destruction"

Max Wisniewski, campaigns manager for Revive Scotland, said: “Grouse shooting is surrounded by a circle of destruction where our wildlife is destroyed in their thousands, the land is scarred and burnt, our vital peatlands are degraded and grouse are mass medicated by toxic chemicals, just so more of this supposedly wild bird can be shot by a few people for sport.

"The grouse moor lobbyists want to keep much of Scotland’s uplands in a degraded state, at the expense of our people, our wildlife and the environment – because it suits them to do so. It does not fit with the modern progressive Scotland that most of us identify with or wish to see.

"Revive strongly encourages the Scottish Government to focus on its stated goal to transition away from driven grouse shooting towards better alternatives for the rural economy and biodiversity.

“Licensing of grouse moors is long overdue and we wholeheartedly welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to introduce measures which will make land managers more accountable.”

Plans for grouse moor reform

The Scottish Government has previously committed to reforming grouse moor management by introducing a licensing scheme for grouse moor businesses.

However, this has yet to be put in place.

It comes as SNP MP Dave Doogan visited a grouse shooting estate in the Angus Glens.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation Scotland and Scotland’s Regional Moorland Groups welcomed the parliamentarian and described grouse shooting as a “gift” to rural sustainability.

Doogan was taken on a tour of a managed grouse moor where he was shown the “environmental benefits of muirburn and peatland restoration.”

Commenting on the visit he said: “It’s really good to see the ongoing environmental improvements being made in support of wildlife habitats on land and in the watercourses, together with the continued maintenance of walking routes throughout the glens so people can access our unique landscape and wildlife.

“I look forward to future visits to see further developments in the outdoor economy across the Angus Glens.”

Grouse shooting supporters promote 'benefits'

Supporters of grouse shooting point to a report published in 2020 by the Scottish Government, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), and the James Hutton Institute as proof of the sport’s environmental and economic benefits.

It found that there was a higher per-hectare employment impact from grouse moors than from sheep farming and forestry and that it delivered high levels of regional investment while receiving no public funding.

Peter Clark, public affairs manager for BASC Scotland, said: “Estates provide high quality jobs and expenditure on shooting boosts the profitability and resilience of wider local supply chains, from hotels to country sports retailers.

“I want to thank Dave Doogan MP for joining us at the estate and on the moors, as it is vital parliamentarians see the benefit first-hand of sporting estates, and the immense contribution they make to their constituency.”

An independent report into grouse moor management chaired by Dr Alan Werritty was published in 2019.

It found that the licensing of grouse moors was required to protect birds of prey such as golden eagles and hen harriers as they continued to be killed on or around grouse moor estates.

Following publication of the report, the Scottish Government committed to implementing a licensing scheme to provide further protection to the country’s raptors.